Wednesday, the day before the 2012 CEDIA Expo opens its show floor, is both the day many integrators come to the convention center to take educational classes – and also the press comes for a day full of press conferences.
I approached the event this year with a high level of anticipation, as our strata-GEE.com CEDIA survey suggested that attendance might be better than originally anticipated. As I approached the convention center, I was surprised by the lack of activity around the outside of the hall. Then a CEDIA hotel shuttle bus showed up and – suddenly – we had a fair amount of activity.
Little did I know that when I entered the hall, I had a rather intense surprise waiting…
No sooner had I entered the hall and got my bearings when I was collared by a PR person who guided me over to a high-level executive from a Nortek company who wanted to “discuss” with me – in fairly coarse and direct terms – his opinion of my recent coverage of the Nortek Core Brands consolidation. Apparently…he didn’t like it.
After about a 15-minute conversation – which ended on a more positive note, I might add – I excused myself and headed to the press office to get my badge and move into our first press conference of the day…SpeakerCraft – ironically, a Nortek company. Keith Marshall, formerly President of Proficient and SpeakerCraft and now channel manager of Core Brands, strode up to the podium and began the presentation discussing – you guessed it – Nortek’s Core Brands consolidation. (At this point, I’m sensing a theme for my show experience this year.)
A long day of camping out…
It was the start of a long day…but it was an interesting day on a variety of topics. Not quite as hectic as the press day at CES, at CEDIA, most press presentations are in a central press conference room. So you can find a good seat and camp out for presentation after presentation.
As I write this story, it is now mid-show, I believe I can say pretty confidently that the attendance appears to be down from last year – although to my eyes moderately so. There is definitely activity in the halls. In fact, at times, they are downright busy. But it is never really crowded. And the aisles are wide…and there are open spaces around the edges. And if you peer around the curtains surrounding the show…you see that we’re not using the whole hall.
In surveying exhibitor’s booth personnel and attendees – the general consensus is that attendance is down…with some suggesting it’s down more dramatically than my assessment.
Several people mentioned to me that the mood is professional but, in some way, muted than in years past. There have been few raucous outbursts (although Key Digital caused quite a stir late Thursday with a PA system and scantily clad girls at their booth. There was just about a riot when they began tossing giveaways out in the crowd.
strata-GEE’s CEDIA highlights include:
- My Nortek scolding led to a fascinating meeting with Bill Pollock and Paul Starkey who patiently and courteously explained the company’s side of the consolidation. Watch for my upcoming story with all the details.
- Most of the booths and manufacturers had the usual incremental line extensions with no overall discernible industry-wide trend EXCEPT: I found a real trend with more emerging companies pursuing the green technology market. Some of this was very exciting…
- nuLED – A very cool Power over Ethernet LED lighting system that is easily programmable. And you can program in custom colors formulations representing any of the colors in the visible spectrum. nuLED is also working with Cisco on Enterprise solution for the commercial market.
- Slowly but surely, CEDIA is beginning to release more and more marketing data which appears to provide an accurate breakdown of the market. This is the answer to the prayers of all serious marketers looking for data and guidance as the state and direction of the CI industry.
- A tremendously entertaining and humorous Key Note Presentation from Dr. Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York. You also may have seen him on the Discovery Channel. Kaku’s presentation made me realize that we must always push ourselves to dream big…believe me – he’s a big dreamer. To solve insoluble problems – you must force yourself to consider possibilities deep into the realm of the impossible.
- Another interesting development is a new distributor – Energy Squad – focused exclusively on the green tech market, especially highly efficient LED lighting system solutions. Energy Squad was really born out of the frustrations owner Jonathan Stovall experienced at his other business – Bethesda Systems (Bethesda, MD) – where installations of energy-efficient systems were hampered by lack of easy availability and support. With green technology likely the next great wave in the custom integration industry – Stovall knew he had to create a solution to help fuel the growth of the industry. And that solution is Energy Squad.
- A new and somewhat unusual item we found interesting is a luxury residential energy storage solution with a price tag not for the faint-of-heart…but which could be an early indicator of the future of delivering energy into the home…from Rosewater Energy Group.
Watch for our continuing follow-up coverage on these stories and more over the following days. One thing is for sure – with all of these new high-efficiency LED solutions – we’re looking at CEDIA in a whole new light!